Rose marked her thirtieth birthday this year with a momentous accomplishment: her election as President of the Ingenzi Knit Union. She has been a member of Mpore Mama Cooperative for years, gaining knitting skills with the support of Rwanda Knits and the Imbuto Foundation, and promises to be “committed to my job and try to work equitably to consider the needs of all members of the union.” She looks forward to several benefits of Union membership, including the chance “to work together, to gain skills through training, and to get advise from various people.” She also anticipates meeting challenges ranging from convincing fellow co-op members to be active participants in meetings to finding new markets. “Rwandan women are standing up,” she says, “but we need more training so that we have enough skills to develop partnerships with people outside Rwanda and look for new markets in the USA.”
Thursday, July 9, 2009
“After being elected as a member of the Board of Directors, I will advise my colleagues on how we can develop the Ingenzi Knit Union,” says twenty-six-year-old Josiane. Even if her primary cooperative, Mpore Mama, lacks adequate means on its own, “I expect we [Union members] will join forces together in this knitting activity.” She asks that her supporters “continue to help us so that we can achieve self-sustainability.”
“I will do my best to supervise well the entry and exit of our wealth,” says twenty-nine-year-old Godeberthe, who was elected to the Supervisory Committee of the Ingenzi Knit Union. Although her primary cooperative, Mpore Mama, lacked the capacity to access new markets, she expects that the Union will drastically improve their lot by sheer force of collaboration: “Benefits I expect are being together to share knowledge and discussing together on common issues.” She asks that supporters “stay beside us” as they continue to work and grow together.
Twenty-seven-year-old Caritas serves as both a member of the Ingenzi Knit Union Supervisory Committee and one of the top models for the Rwanda Knits project. She loves showing off the latest in Rwandan knitwear fashion almost as much as she loves knitting! With the support of her husband Pascal and two-year-old son, she is excited to move from President of Hosiana Cooperative to this new leadership role in the Union. “I wish to help establish a fair system of working,” she says.Anticipating challenges that new leaders in the Union may hesitate to take risks or make the decisions necessary, she expects that having more capacity will help the Union to be strong. “The Union will be the speaker for all the primary cooperatives at the highest level.”
Although one of the newest and youngest members of Hosiana Cooperative, Immaculée’s leadership skills belie her twenty-seven years. She lives in Kigali not too far from Amahoro Stadium, where her primary cooperative works. Immaculée also serves as the Vice President of the nascent Ingenzi Knit Union: “Now that I am elected, I really want to work hard, be transparent in what I will undertake, and be committed to my work.” She expects the union to help her become “a real entrepreneur,” gain new skills, and provide Hosiana with more professionalism and market access.